In pro football, the fashionable place to shop for head coaches once was the staff of Paul Brown. In basketball, former Celtics were in heavy demand as coaches. Now the Orioles suddenly are showing that somebody other than the Dodgers knows how to cultivate successful baseball managers.

Earl Weaver's genius credentials were established long ago. In 10 years as manager of the Orioles, after replacing Hank Bauer at midseason in 1968, he has won 958 games.

Joe Altobelli finally broke his Oriole connection after winning manager-of-the-year honors three times at Rochester and has the Giants in first place in the National League West.

Billy Hunter has at least second-best team money can buy - the Texas Rangers - in contention in the American League West and George Bamberger's Milwaukee Brewers have the third best record in all the baseball.

Is this merely happy coincidence? Or perhaps there is some thread that one day might be called the Oriole Way, to show that, although Branch Rickey held the key to organizational wisdom, others could barge through the door now and then.

"All of us have our own little touches of course," Hunter said. "but when you talk about fundamental technique there is no difference in the four of us. And that, after all, is what winning is all about.

"After we'd gotten to Baltimore (in the mid and late '60s), some of us-Earl, me, Bamberger, (Ray) Scarborough and some others sat down and drew up a sort of manager's manuel.

"The idea was to established a system, so there was no difference in fundamentals from one level to the next. From the rookie league to the big league, the Orioles had the same pickoff plays, the same cutoff plays, how to defense the double steal, how to defense the bunt.

"It's not all that different from the Dodger system, which I grew up in and I haven't been in Texas long enough to get it established here. But it's pretty solidly established in baseball now.

"For instance, the other day (Don) Baylor, who grew up in the Oriole organization, was on second (for the Angels) and all of a sudden yells to the man on first: 'Be careful over there be careful.' We had to change our (pickoff) sign again."

Harry Dalton is as responsible as any one man can be for the Orioles winning more games than any team in the major leagues over the past 21 years. After trying unsuccessfully to buy a pennant for six years with the Angels, the former Oriole general manager stunned baseball with his first major move with the Brewers - hiring Bamberger as manager.

Even Bamberger expected to turn down the job offer. He was a man satisfied with his lot in life-as the best pitching coach in baseball-and had enough savings to retire comfortably in a few years.

But he told his wife Wilma he had a salary firgure in mind that would lure him to Milwaukee, though he told Weaver it was as offer he expected Dalton to refuse.

"They were about $20,000 apart." Weaver said, "so George gets up to leave. But Harry says: 'Wait.' And he comes up with an attendance clause, that George gets $10,000 for each 100,000 the Brewers draw over 1.3 million.

"And George says: 'That sounds good.'

"So Harry says: 'You ready to sign."

"George says: 'No.'

"They bargain some more, Harry comes up some and then says: 'I'll give Wilma one of those air-travel cards, so she can go anywhere free.'

"George says: 'Yeah, throw that in.'

"And Harry says: 'Ready.'

George says: 'No.'

"You know how Harry breaks into tears when it comes to money-and about now he's close to tears.He gets close to George's figure and then says: 'Tell you what, if things don't work out (as manager) we'll work out a provision where you'll be pitching coach here two more years.'

"George said the Orioles would have to be given the first chance for his pitching-coach services and Harry agreed saying: 'Now are you ready to sign?'

"And George said: 'No.'"

Dalton continued to bend.

"So George walked out with his figure-plus all that other stuff thrown in."

Weaver delights in telling of Bamberger's success, because he had battled Dalton long and hard with the Orioles.

"I quit the day I took the job (from Bauer)." Weaver said, smiling. "I was getting $7,500 managing in Puerto Rico for three months at the time-and with what I was making coaching, the (Orioles) managing job would have been a cut.

"Actually, I'd forgotten to ask for a raise when I took the job, so I went back to his house. And then quit. Harry let me walk all the way to the car that night before he gave in.

"Once before, after my second year at Elmira, he tried to cut me $1,600. So bully for George."